DURING her first state visit abroad, President of Chile Michelle Bachelet announced in Buenos Aires on March 21 that tendering for the project to restore the 225 km route from Los Andes to Mendoza in Argentina (RG 4.06 p218) would start before July 31 2006.

The preceding week the Chilean government had given its approval for the project, which is expected to require investment of US$320m in infrastructure and US$140m for rolling stock.

Offering an all-weather crossing of the Andes, the route would be used by 10 trains a day in each direction, providing capacity in excess of 4million tonnes/year. In is hoped that work will be completed by the end of 2009.